'Loose change'

P18 is not enough.

This was the statement of lawyer Nora Analyn Demeterio-Diego, vice president of Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) Central Visayas, after the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7 approved an P18 wage increase for daily minimum-wage earners in Metro Cebu on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. The increase will take effect in January next year.

Diego said ALU-TUCP wanted a wage increase, and the group felt glad that it got what it wanted. It is an early Christmas gift for the ordinary workers, she added.

However, Diego said the increase should have been higher than P18, describing the amount as “sinsilyo (loose change).”

“We cannot help but be frustrated with the amount,” Diego said.

ALU-TUCP had been pushing for a P300-plus wage increase per day before the RTWPB 7 made its decision, but Diego said they did not expect that the RTWPB would listen to them.

The approved wage adjustment in Central Visayas is a far cry from the P30 per day increase granted for minimum wage earners in Western Visayas.

Understand workers

Diego said the employer sector should understand the workers.

Each RTWPB is composed of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) regional director as ex-officio chairman, regional directors of the National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Trade and Industry as ex-officio vice chairmen, and two representatives each from worker and employer sectors as members.

Labor groups have been criticizing the composition of RTWPB as they are under-represented in the board, claiming that the government representatives often side with the employer sector.

All RTWPBs are administered by the National Wages and Productivity Commission of the Dole.

Better than nothing

With the approval of the P18 wage increase, the new rate for micro-businesses with 10 employees or more will now be P404 per day, while for companies with less than 10 employees will be P396 per day.

Working as security guard for a decade already, Carlito Behante, 35, said he is looking forward to the increase as he could spend it for his fare from his residence in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City to his workplace in the city’s downtown.

His salary often goes to jeepney fares, food, tuition for his child and other household necessities.

“Mas maayo na lang pod ni kaysa wala. Paabot na pod ta sunod basin naay bag-ong increase (It is better than getting no increase. We should wait for the possibility of a new increase soon),” Behante said.

The increase was also welcomed by Lyn Bendaño, a 24-year-old probationary accounting staff in a shipping company.

“It would be a big help, especially to me as I am supporting my younger sibling who is still in school,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

She is also hoping that her company would give bonuses or year-end incentives. Behante, for his part, is praying that his agency would throw a Christmas party for its security guards as he never experienced attending a single party in his current agency in the past years.

New rate

The RTWPB also approved the new rate for househelp in the region, which is now between P4,500 and P5,000.

Before the RTWPB 7 could implement the new rates, it must submit its decision before the NWPC.

The NWPC’s approval of the new wage rates for Central Visayas will take effect 15 days after the publication of its

decision. (WBS)